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Mumbere's Bail Application Hearing Fails to Take Off

Rachael Bikhole, the principal state attorney from the Directorate of Public Prosecution objected to the bail hearing, saying since the King is also facing terrorism, his application should be heard by the International Crimes Division of the High Court that has the jurisdiction over terrorism cases.
Mumbere being escorted to Jinja High Court
Hearing of the bail application of Rwenzururu King, Charles Wesley Mumbere failed to take off this morning in Jinja high court following preliminary objection by the state. 

Government dragged Mumbere, his prime minister and 161 royal guards to court in November last year on 41 counts including treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery. 

The charges stem from the Kasese clashes on November 26th and 27th, 2016, which claimed lives of several police officers and royal guards. On December 16th, Mumbere applied for bail through his lawyers, Alaka & Co Advocates and Ochieng Associates Advocates pending his trial. 

In his application, Mumbere pointed out that it is his constitutional right to bail. He assured court that he will not interfere with investigations into the Kasese killings. Mumbere also said he has substantial sureties who are willing stand for him and has fixed places of abode at Muyenga Cell, Nyakabingo II in Kasese and in Makindye, Kampala.

The bail application came up for hearing this morning before Justice Eva Luswata in Jinja high court. However, Rachael Bikhole, the principal state attorney from the Directorate of Public Prosecution objected to hearing, saying since the King is also facing terrorism, the application should be heard by the International Crimes Division of the High Court that has the jurisdiction to hear terrorism charges.

He argued that the rules of International Crimes Division of the High Court demand that cases such as terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity and bail application are heard before that same court. Bikhole also argued that even bail applications in terrorism charges should be heard by a judge or a panel of Justices in the International Crimes Division or any judge designated by the principal judge.

Caleb Alaka, Mumbere's lead lawyer couldn't have any of this. He argued that since the rules of the International Crimes Division of the High court talk of a trial judge, this is only applicable to a trial, which is not the case on the matter before court. Alaka added that the ICD practice directions could only apply if the king had been committed to stand trial but he has not yet, meaning the high court that has jurisdiction to hear the bail application too.

“You are not a committal court, it's only the chief magistrate's court, which can commit an applicant with committal papers, which are nowhere to be seen,” he said. After hearing from both parties Justice Eva Luswata adjourned court to Thursday morning when she will rule on whether to hear the bail application or forward it to the ICD.

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